On the Job

How to Handle Flower Care on Board

2 May 2021 By Kylie O'Brien
flower arranging basics for stewardesses on board a yacht
Courtesy of Yacht Flowers

Kylie O’Brien has worked on some of the world’s most magnificent vessels with amazing people for more than 13 years. A graduate of The Australian College of Applied Psychology, she is the author of Crew Wanted, The Stewardess Bible, The Chief Stewardess Bible, The Inside Job, and has been a monthly contributor to Dockwalk magazine for more than five years.

The simple, humble, beautiful flower has been used by artists over the centuries to create, inspire, and convey their stories. Flowers can be used to stir deep emotions, cultural messages, and moods in people.

Plants and flowers can make the perfect gift for your sweetheart and or green-fingered friend. For others, flowers are a pretty accompaniment to complement the décor in any room. But for some, flowers can be the cause of utter discomfort, igniting their allergies that they try so hard to keep at bay.

As chief stew, you should think about how to go about finding the perfect flowers for your yacht, how to arrange them, if you should include aromatic flowers or plants, and what your thoughts are on faux flowers. These are the typical questions that I get asked on a regular basis. For some reason, stews often lack confidence when it comes to taking care of these blooming beauties on board.

With these basic flower care tips and secrets from the experts, you’ll be able to keep those flowers blooming.

Courtesy of Yacht Flowers

Make Your Flowers Last

The objective of basic flower care should be to make your freshly cut flowers last longer — not an easy feat when you’re cruising around some pretty hot places. Freshly cut flowers should last at least a week. You can nurse them along so they make it to the end of a weeklong charter. Start by checking the flowers daily. Trim the ends off the flowers at a 45-degree angle to help them drink up water. Empty the old water and replace it with new water daily, making sure to clean the vase as well.

In addition, though you only receive one little satchel of flower food (the little packet stuck to the side of fresh flowers), do not worry, as you can make your own or buy a high-quality flower food mix from your florist.

Learn the Flower Arranging Basics

Basic flower arranging is a subject that many stewardesses shy away from — maybe you’d rather purchase them pre-arranged. But if you don’t have this luxury because you’re at the ends of the Earth without a florist and need to go to the market yourself, then do not despair. First, make sure you have the tools to make your life easier. The basic tools required are:

  • Scissors or pruning shears
  • New floral foam (although you can get creative with old foam in desperate times)
  • Water spray bottle
  • Floral wire
  • Plastic containers to fit inside colored vases

In addition, I asked the experts Delia and Eileen from YachtFlowers.comwhat the secret weapon in their toolbox was. They recommend the following: “Cutters, gloves, knife, and repeat,” the two shared. “Definitely a good pair of floral cutters. Sharp cutters protect the stems from being crushed, gloves can protect your hands, and a knife is great to get rid of rose thorns.”

Next, go to the market and choose the freshest flowers you can find. Trim the stems and remove the redundant leaves, branches, and any wilting flowers before placing them into water while you set yourself up for the arranging process. The arranging process doesn't have to be an ordeal. Keep it simple; master a few arrangements. Learn to create an asymmetrical triangle and horizontal design along with well-arranged, fresh cut flowers, which will get you out of trouble every time.

Courtesy of Yacht Flowers

Know Your Poisonous Flowers

Brenda G. Wallace from Floral Atelier Barcelona offers some fantastic advice: “It’s important to understand that there are a variety of poisonous flowers that can be harmful to humans and/or animals if ingested or touched. Make sure you consider this when designing your floral arrangements.”

The Stance on Fake Flowers

Is there a place for faux flowers? Superyachts represent pure luxury, so why would you place fake flowers on board? The answer is: bespoke luxury and versatility...and the owner’s request.

For years, I have used a combination of high-quality faux flowers mixed with fresh foliage for table settings and other arrangements. “Preserved or dried flower options will last all season, maybe even longer,” says Joanna Hirst from EtherealBlooms.com. “We say around six months once you take into account the unique environmental factors that yachts encounter on the daily. A long-lasting non-preserved option that we’re certainly seeing more of are succulents, and in the Caribbean, tropical flowers and foliage.”

What’s Trending

The experts weigh in on the newest trends, with Hirst from Ethereal Blooms offering the following advice. “Crew and owners are starting to think more about sustainability, and this extends even to their floral choices. As such, we’re seeing a huge uptick in long-lasting flowers, whether traditional alternatives such as artificial flowers, or the more modern options such as dried or preserved,” she says. “The floriculture industry is one of the worst culprits for CO2 emissions due largely to the short lifespan of the flowers and the amount of water and energy it takes to grow and transport flowers across the globe in refrigerated containers. The yearly environmental cost of buying a single fresh floral bouquet every week is estimated at over 56kg of CO2 emissions.” She adds, “We’re also seeing that as explorer yachts continue to trend and technology allows for extended trips further from civilization, longer-lasting floral alternatives are being chosen more often here too.”

Brenda Wallace from Floral Atelier offers her 2021 trend prediction: “Unique floral designs, movement (less rigid), subtle, delicate, and graceful design, touches of dried/preserved flowers, intense colors are back too together with texture. Keep in mind that trends can change depending on your location!”

This column is taken from the March 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


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